About The Novel
Zaidan’s adventures usually unfold against a textured backdrop of history, culture and politics, and The Battle of Poitiers is no exception. Romance and intrigue provide the central plot of this historical novel that are woven into the events culminating in the battle of Poitiers. Maryam, the novel’s heroine, was not only young and beautiful but she was a woman of extraordinary honor, by birth and accomplishment. Like any man, she fought with great courage in several battles. But she also had the grace of women and had many suitors: Hani, Captain of the Arab Cavalry and Bustam his rival and Chieftain of a Berber Tribe. Last but not least ‘Abd al-Rahman, the Arab ruler of Spain and southern France, is also enamored with her. Who will win her heart and how will all these relationships unfold in the context of the historical events?
The story is replete with mystery – the identity and genealogy of many of the principal characters are shrouded in secrecy and suspense reigns for long before their true identity is revealed. Who is Maryam’s father? And is Salma really her mother? What is Salma’s true identity? Who is that grandson of Maryam’s servant, Hassan, whom he has never seen? Is Maymuna, slave and concubine of ‘Abd al-Rahman, really the servant of Lumbaja the daughter of Duke Odo or is she impersonating someone else? Not only are we kept guessing on the true identity of many of the novel’s main characters but we are surprised to learn that so many of them lived at various stages of their lives in both the Muslim and Christian worlds. As we learn their origins and their true loyalties we begin to piece together the game of spies and counter-spies that is played out, with each promoting his or her secret agenda in a web of fast paced actions that influence the outcome of the Battle of Poitiers.